Dr. Sri Sri Pitambar Dev Goswami
Born in a village called Kendu Bilwa on the banks of the river Ajay in district Beerbhum in present-day Orissa Jaidev the composer of Geet Gobinda was the son of Bhojdev and Bamadevi.
At a very young age, Jaidev Goswami took celibacy and left his native village of Kendu Bilwa for the holy shrine of Shri Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu in Puri. Moved at his intense devotion and dedication for the Bhagawat, the ruler of Utkal as a mark of respect to Jaidev made him a poet in his court. Lord Jagannath too was greatly pleased at the intense devotion and dedication of his devotee. Although he had chosen the life of a celibate, Jaidev eventually married a devout lady by the name of Padmawati. There is however an interesting story in this regard. It so happened that once a childless Brahman couple offering their prayers to the Lord Jagannath entreated for a child, at the same time as they (also) gave their word(before the Lord) that they would give up their first born to serve the Lord. Soon afterwards, the couple was blessed with a girl child. When she came of age, fulfilling their pledge, the couple placed their daughter (whom they had named Padmawati) at the Lord's feet. Won over by the girl's devotion, Lord Jagannath realised that Padmawati would be the ideal partner for the pious Jaidev. Consequently, the Lord appeared in the Brahman's dreams and commanded him to marry their daughter to Jaidev. Following the Lord's command, Padmawati's parents set off in search of Jaidev. However, when he heard of this Jaidev refused to marry Padmawati, for he was a celibate. The couple insisted that they were doing so at the directive of Lord Jagannath Himself. Even then, when Jaidev refused to comply with their request Padmawati's parents unable to decide anything left their daughter at Jaidev's place; for they could under no circumstance, disobey the Lord. Jaidev's parents Bhojdev and Bamadevi were now in a dilemma. They asked Padmawati as to what she intended to do now that she was left behind by her parents while Jaidev had already spurned her. She replied that following the command of Lord Jagannath since her parents had left her with Jaidev; hence, he was her husband (swami), teacher (guru) and master (devta). She would not leave Jaidev's side for the world. When he heard Padmawati speak thus, he could no longer refuse her. Tying the knot with Padmawati Jaidev left the life of celibacy and became a worldly man.
A few days later, Lord Jagannath appeared in Jaidev's trance. Following the Lord's directive, Jaidev along with his wife Padmawati returned to his native village of Kenduli in Beerbhum and devoted himself to the worship of the deity of Radha-Madhab, which was in fact a partial incarnation of Lord Jagannath. The husband-wife duo devoted themselves totally to the worship of the Lord, their hearts overflowing with veneration for the Almighty.
Jaidev was well versed with the Bhakti shatra. Impressed with his immense knowledge as also his talent, Lakshman Sen, the ruler of Gour, made Jaidev the Poet-Laureate of his court. Thus, comfortably settled in the worldly sense, Jaidev dedicated himself to the worship of the deity of Radha-Madhab and soon brought out the verse work Shri Gobinda. In the knowledge of the Sanskrit language as also in the knowledge of the verses and in music, Jaidev and Padmawati were unparalleled. Jaidev's stature in music can be easily gauged by the following incident: it so happened that once there was a great Brahman singer by the name of Burha Mishra. One day, performing at the court of Lakshman Sen, Burha Mishra garnered the admiration of the entire court including the king. Because he had managed to achieve great feats through the sheer power of his music, the king was on the verge of offering him the great honour of Sangeet Sadhak, when Jaidev appeared on the scene and stated that what Burha Mishra had achieved was in reality no extraordinary feat. The Brahman singer had, while singing made the trees shed their leaves. However, Jaidev reasoned the shedding of leaves by the trees was a natural occurrence at that time of the year since it was the advent of the spring season. Through his music Jaidev then made new leaves appear on the branches of the now barren trees, leaving everybody including the king stunned at his feat. Convinced of his greatness as a singer, King Lakshman Sen then bestowed the honour of the greatest singer onto Jaidev.
Upon completing his Geet-Gobinda, Jaidev went to the holy shrine of Jagannath Puri and dedicated this work to Shri Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu. The songs and verses of this epic soon became highly popular among the devotees; the popularity spread all around and was accepted and approved of by the aficionados. The devotional Shri Gobinda Geet resonated all through the religious world.
Once it so happened that a malini, all by herself, was singing the Geet Gobinda in a garden with all her devotion. The melody of the verses added to her devotion gave rise to a symphony so mellifluous that the Lord Jagannath Himself came down to the earth, and entering the garden, listened to the melodious devotional songs, mesmerized. The Lord was so enchanted by her melodious rendition that He became oblivious to the happenings around him, to an extent that he was unaware of his attire being soiled with dust and thorns. The moment he heard of this, the ruler of Orissa sent a palanquin to bring the malini to the temple and made her sing the Geet Gobinda before the deity of Lord Jagannath; and this he made her do every morning . Thus began the tradition of singing the Geet Gobinda every morning at the Jagannath temple. Today, without beginning the day with a recital of the Geet Gobinda, the Jagannath prayers are considered incomplete. Also, at the time of initiating this tradition in the hallowed Jagannath temple, the king of Utkal (Orissa) made it a rule that the Geet Gobinda will no longer be recited in unholy places and in the roads and streets but only in those places that have the deities of Jagannath and Gobinda. This was done such that Lord Jagannath does not have to go anywhere to listen to these devotional songs.
About four hundred years ago, Gobinda Mahaprabhu came to Upper Assam and was consecrated at Auniati Satra. And ever since, the custom of recital of the Geet Gobinda at the Jagannath shrine has been in existence at the Auniati Satra with as much fervour and devotion...Hence, even today the Vaishnavs of the Satra render the holy songs before the Godhead to its fullest perfection keeping in view the Taal, raag etc...Just as the Geet Gobinda is sung in the Jagannath temple first thing in the morning before offering any prayers to the Almighty, in the Auniati Satra as well rendering the Geet Gobinda as the morning prayers is a time-honoured custom. The first stanza of these devotional songs glorifying the greatness of Gobinda, composed in Sanskrit is the panegyric called Dashawatar stotra. This stotra is still sung to the accompaniment of the Dashawatar Nritya (dance) in the said Satra. It is worth mentioning that in the present times this is the sole Satra to continue the study and research as well as the tradition of performance of the Dashawatar Nritya. This is not only a custom, which the Satra is carrying forward; on the contrary, this has had a significant influence on the Sattriya tradition of song, dance and drama. This is especially so in the Sattriya song and drama forms, where there has been incorporation of Sanskrit terms/words and certain definite taalas and raagas of Geet Gobinda. Thus, there are many verses, which have been composed in the Satra following the precedents of the Geet Gobinda, and these are in preserved form in the Satra: even today, there is much research going on in this field... Some of the Sanskrit Dashawatar verses of the Geet Gobinda which have been much researched upon in the Satra will be performed here. Also, a few of the songs of the Geet Gobinda will be played today. Following is an analysis of each of the Stotras of Dashawatar:
Geet Gobindam Dashawatar Stotra
Malav Gouro-Rupak Taal
1. Pralaya Prayudhi Jole Dhritobanoxi Vedang
Bihito Bahitra Charitramakhedom
Keshavadhrito Meeno Xoriro
Jaya Jagadisha Hare.
O Lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of a fish; and
in the stormy waters, like a boat swam easily rescued the Vedas. This is your greatness. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
2. Khitiroti Bipulotore Tisthoti Tobo Pristhe
Dhoroni Dhoreno Kino Sokro Goristhe
Keshaba Dhrito Kossopo Rupo
Jaya Jagadisho Hare.
O lord Keshava you who have assumed the form of a tortoise; in the broad expanse of your back, the world rests, and you assumed this form solely to hold the world. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
3. Boxoti Doxono Sikhore Dharani Tobo Lagna
Sosini kolonko Kolebo Nimogna
Keshaba Dhrito Sukoro Rupo
O Lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of a pig; just as the moon signifies the notion of being scarred, you too by holding the world by your teeth. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
4. Tobo Kore Kamala Bore Nokhomodbhuto Dosringong
Dolito Hironyokoshipu Tonu Bhringomo
Keshaba Dhrito Narahari Rupo
Jaya jagadisha hare.
O lord you who have assumed the form of Narasingha; with the sharp nails of your hand, you ripped apart the body of Hironyokoshipu. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
5.Soloyoxi Bikromone Bolimodbhuto Bamano
Podo nokho niroJonito Jono Pabono
Keshaba Dhrito Bamono Rupo
Jaya Jogodisho Hare.
O Lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of a Bamono (a dwarf); you who have connived against the King Boli through your glory. And with the water washed off your feet you have sanctified the people. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
6. Khyotriyorudhiromoye Jogodopogoto Papong
Poyoxi Xomito Bhobo Tapom
Keshaba Dhrito Bhrigupotirupo
Jaya Jagadisho Hare.
O lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of Bhrigupoti (another name for Parasurama); you cleansed the world of evil (paap) by demolishing the Khyatriyos. However prior to that, bathing in holy Kurukshetra you had calmed the Bhava-taap (fire/heat of Siva's anger) within you...therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
7. Bitorosi Dikhyorone Dikpoti Romoniyong
Doxomukho MouliBoling Romoniyom
Keshaba Dhrito Ramo Xoriro
Jaya Jagadisho Hare.
O lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of Rama; you had offered the ten beautiful heads of Dashanan (Ravana) as a sacrifice to the Devatas. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
8. Bahaxi Bapusi Bishada Basam Jaldavang
Halahati Bhiti Milito Jamunabhom
Keshaba Dhrito haladhar Rupo
Jaya Jagadisha Hare.
O lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of a Haladhar (Balaram, holding a plough); we entreat you to put on, on your massive body the cloudy attire of the river Yamuna tinged with the bluish hue. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
9. Nindoxi Jogyo Bidherohoho Shruti Jatong
Sadaya Hridaya Dorxito Poxughatom
Keshaba Dhrito Buddha Xoriro
Jaya Jagadisha Hare.
O lord Keshava, you who have assumed the form of Buddha; your benign heart pains at the philosophy of animal sacrifice, so you criticise the Vedic yagyas. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
10. Mlesso Niboho NidhoneKalayaxi Karaalam
Dhumketu miboKimopi Koralom
Keshava Dhrito Kolki Xoriro
Jaya Jagadisha Hare.
O lord Keshava, you who assume the form of Kolki; we entreat you to alight on this earth, bearing a Koral Axi (sword) in hand, and demolish all the barbarians. Therefore, praise be the lord of the Universe.
It is our sincerest and earnest desire that there should be extensive publicity of the raagas, taalas, tunes and verses of the Geet Gobinda. For it is only that way that we have a beautiful identity of the devotional literature of Vaishnavism.
In all, there are 24 songs in the Geet Gobinda. Composed in Sanskrit, it has been divided into twelve chapters. Each chapter incorporates the following topics, raagas, and taalas:
Topic Raag Taal
1st chapter Saamod-Daamodar Malev Gour Rupak
2nd chapter Aklesh Keshava Sujari Nihsaar
3rd chapter Mugdha Madhusudon Basanta Joti
4th chapter Snigdho Madhusudon Baamkiri Joti
5th chapter Saakanka Pundori Kaakhyo Gujjori Joti
6thchapter Dhristo Boikuntho Maalav Gour Ektaal
7th chapter Naagar Narayan Gujjori Joti
8th chapter Bilakhya Lakhmi Pati Kanati Ektaal
9th chapter Mugdho Mukundo Desaashyo Ektaal
10th chapter Mugdho Madhab Boraari Rupak
11thchapter Saananda Gobindo Gujori Ektaal
12thchapter Suprito Pitaambor Gunokaari Rupak.
(translated from the original Assamese by Stuti Goswami. This paper was presented in a convocation at Utkal University, Orissa)